In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italian and AC Milan legend Franco Baresi recalls the icon he’s often compared to, German champion Franz Beckenbauer. His understanding and execution of the libero role, a defensive position pivotal to Italian football, have drawn parallels between him and Beckenbauer.
Reflecting on the legendary 1974 Germany-Netherlands match, Baresi said, “I remember Beckenbauer and Cruijff, two legends against each other. It’s a moment that inspired me my entire life.”
He also discussed the first time he saw Beckenbauer, during a tournament in Germany. Despite being an adult at the time, Baresi described the encounter as nerve-wracking. “The day I saw him in Germany, where we had gone for a tournament… I was almost blushing with excitement. Comparisons with him always made me uncomfortable. We’re talking about Beckenbauer, number one,” he recalled.
Baresi also recounted Germany’s 1990 World Cup victory in Italy, where Beckenbauer was the manager of the German team. The Italian defender humorously lamented that they were inches away from meeting in the final but for Italy’s penalty-shootout loss to Argentina in the semi-final, which ultimately allowed Beckenbauer to lift the trophy.
When prompted about who would play as libero if they had played together, he said, “I don’t know, but it would certainly have been a great honor for me.”
Interestingly, he pointed out that his initials and Beckenbauer’s are the same, FB, which may have contributed to the comparisons. But, he quickly added highlighting some differences, “I have seen him play several times, but I hardly remember him committing a foul. I, let’s say, committed a few more…”